What a day this was. From a rather boring 5½ drive to a wonderful Meet & Greet, with a little bit of Mother Nature's excitement thrown in, today was amazing. Running on fumes, sleep-wise, we left Niagara and arrived in Bethel by 2:30 and met the rest of our forum group: Dave, Rick, Kelly and her husband, Chris. After a quick change, we headed for the venue, our plan being to hopefully listen to the sound check and then see what happens during a rumored live radio broadcast.
The weather was hot but with somewhat lower humidity and the sky kept getting clearer as the afternoon progressed. The Bethel Woods site is truly in the middle of nowhere and the route there is sporadically marked but we made it just fine. It's quite a walk from the parking lot to the museum so we left our M&G stuff in our cars initially. After a little reconnaissance, we ended up on the back patio of the museum and heard the last 2/3 or so of the sound check. The excitement was building in all of us as we watched golf carts moving around in the distance. We couldn't tell if Lynn was driving, but who knows; there is a precedent.
As it got closer to the supposed 5:00 start time for the radio broadcast we couldn't find anything and decided to visit the Woodstock museum. If you're ever in the area, it's well worth the visit. There is quite a lot of 60's memorabilia and a very detailed history of the events leading up to, during and after the festival. We had assumed the the cast and crew probably had a private showing earlier in the day, but we saw several choir members and others visiting the museum, too. They seemed to be as fascinated by the exhibits as we were.
After our museum visit we decided to return to our cars to get our stuff and on the way we found the radio station's truck set up at the main gate. Nothing even remotely Celtic was going on so we passed them right by. By this time, Ralph, his sister Connie, and his friend Samantha and her daughter had arrived, so we chatted in the shade while waiting for the gates to open. Finally, at 7:00 the line started to move and we got inside. The Bethel Woods website says to allow 20 minutes to get the venue and now we understood why; not only is it a long walk from the parking lot but it's an even longer walk to circle around the hill and down the venue.
The venue itself is an open air facility, basically a stage with a long roof extending over the main seating area with lawn seating beyond that. We expected that to make the night more comfortable than Lewiston, but things were changing. Clouds had begun to move in, the lovely breeze that had been blowing stopped, the humidity began rising and pretty soon it was a repeat of last night. Well, we did it once, we can do it again. The replacement seats I had purchased were in the fourth row on the aisle in the first section left of center. On the seating chart they didn't look too bad but in person they turned out to be surprisingly good seats. We had a clear view of the stage but they once again they had the set about 10 feet back from the edge, so the girls wouldn't be very close. Fiddler Crossing signs became fans as we waited for the show to start. A light rain shower passed through before show time which cooled things off just a little but also bumped the humidity up another notch. Whew!
Our group was scattered throughout the venue so we passed the time by chatting with our neighbors. Most are newbies who've seen the PBS show or watched the DVD and we prepare them for what they're about to see. Membership will be on the rise in the coming days.
Finally it was time. Since it was still daylight the show did not start in the dark and the effect of the candles was lost, but that's not why we're there. We were just out of range of the girls because of the distance and there was not much interaction. Chloë gave an extended introduction to Galway Bay and mentioned how privileged they felt to be performing on what to many musicians is hallowed ground and she seemed to be a little jazzed because of it. In fact, as the night progresses they all seemed to be showing appreciation for where they are performing. Máiréad only did 11 spins, but considering the weather the air was probably a little too thick for spinning. Orinoco Flow still has those amazing new bits in it and I paid more attention this time. Even though I still can't describe them I now know where they occur. Wow!
I'm still undecided on the new arrangement of My Heart Was Home Again. I tried to just listen to it but all I hear are the differences and my mind keeps saying, “That's not the way Alex sang it.” During Lynn's part, she seemed at times to be singing directly to me as if she was trying to win me over but it hasn't quite worked yet. Maybe in time...
During intermission, Dave asked me for a few Fiddler Crossing signs for his neighbors and by the end of intermission the eight that I had brought were all gone. He ended up with 4 empty seats next to him in the second row so Rick, Kelly and Chris do an ISU for the second act. Meanwhile, the weather has been getting a little friskier and distant lightning is visible. Mother Nature is getting restless. We were in just the right spot for Amazing Grace and Anthony walked right by us on his way to the stage. It seemed particularly amazing tonight and got a scattered standing ovation. Lynn gave a lovely extended introduction to Dulaman and reflected on the venue. She joked that she had been born in the wrong generation and wanted to sing Woodstock by Joni Mitchell for us. Then she said that she had actually done that earlier in the afternoon on the site of the original Woodstock stage, for an audience of one, and she was clearly moved by the experience. No insults for her seaweed guys tonight though; maybe that's over. Too bad.
As the show progressed, the weather continued to get more exciting and by the end there was some serious rain coming down. The lawn seats were quickly vacated and even those near the perimeter of the roof were leaving because the rain was starting to come down sideways. The girls started getting a little wet on stage during Spanish Lady and there was even a Red Rocks moment when there was a flash of lightning and loud boom just as Máiréad started to play. The reaction of the girls was priceless as their eyes opened wide and Máiréad said “Whoa!” They finished regardless and were treated to a thunderous standing ovation as they exited the stage.
Finally, it was Meet & Greet time, my first since Cleveland. The venue loaned us umbrellas since we would be walking outside to the rear of the venue but we didn't need them; Spanish Lady was not only the end of the show, it was also the end of the storms. Mitch did his usual fine job herding us around and we were led to a rather small room. We lined up around the wall and out into the hall. I had a lot of stuff to organize and it was difficult without a level surface to lay stuff. Since Scott had Lisa and Chloë last night I assumed it would be Máiréad and Lynn and I was right.
Rachel was working the head of the table and was delightful. She even got my name right this time! Dave was in front of me and I watched him go through the line for his first Meet & Greet. He did very well, much better than I did my first time. I had a few things for both of them to sign and my usual gift. As Máiréad shook my hand, the first thing she said was, “It's been a long time, Mike.” She squeezed my hand so hard I thought I might need surgery! We chatted for a bit and then I moved to Lynn. I had two cans of Slime for her to sign and the look on her face when she saw them was: “Oh no, not this stuff again!” I told her it was just for her to sign and then she joked, “You mean I don't get to keep it?” When I told her I had more, she quickly changed her mind! Then I got out my insulated bag that was keeping the Flakes chilled and held it up for them to see. I told Máiréad that I had a gift and her eyes lit up. I said, “You know what this is, don't you?” and she shook her head. I said, “Of course you do. What do I always get you?” Then she smiled that wonderful smile and nodded knowingly. Lynn then said, “Oh, we've sworn off chocolate for this tour.” Now it was my turn to look surprised and I was momentarily stunned. Then she laughed and said, “Just kidding!” Whew. As Scott says on the DVD, “Crisis averted.” They were both so sweet and it was great to see them again.
The original review is here.